Why Breaking Through Locally Can Be Hard To Do

Last November I addressed the issue of how lackluster most of our blogs are when it comes to getting local people to view them. I put up some stats, and I linked to some other articles in that post that I’m not going to link to again; check that one out because it’s different than this one, even though it touches upon the same theme.

Vegetables For Sale - Sacred Valley, Peru
Creative Commons License Theodore Scott via Compfight

Last time I pretty much lamented the situation of breaking through locally. This time I’m going to talk about why it’s harder to do than we think it is. I’m going to do it as kind of a list post, which means my explanations will probably be sort of long. But I’ll try not to make them too long; maybe if I get to 5 I’ll stop. 🙂

1. Too little local competition. This one seems strange, but go with me for a moment. If you live in a small community people already probably know who you are. If you’re putting up information on a blog but you’re the only game in town, most people are either going to just drop in or call you on the phone. It’s only when there might be more options when someone actually goes online to find information or businesses.

2. Too much outside competition. Once again, this one might seem strange until you think about what it is you do and if there are lots of other people doing it.

On my SEOX Blog I talked about one of my clients, an accountant, whose site is the highest ranked accounting site locally. While that sounds great, if you look for the major search terms that I’ve worked on for her the site only cracks the top 100 on Google for one of those terms. She beats every other business in town, but all the other businesses that show up aren’t local. They’re national, which means they have the dollars to dominate the local markets in most communities throughout the country, potentially the world. That hardly seems fair but what to do about it?

3. No one really needs what you do locally. That one’s hard to deal with so let’s explore it. Let’s talk about my SEO/social media site and business. I battle national companies for a lot of services and lose pretty badly. But I’m ranked in the top 5 for some things, even at #1. Those things are:

central new york article writing services – Google, Bing & Yahoo #1
central new york blog writing services – Google #2; Bing & Yahoo #1
syracuse article writing services – Google, Bing #4
syracuse blog writing services – Google, Bing #1
syracuse search engine optimization consulting – Bing #5
syracuse search engine optimization consultant – Bing #2
using your website as a marketing tool – Google #2, Bing #1

I’m not even sure where Yahoo’s mind is if Google & Bing have me ranked but it doesn’t really matter. I worked hard on making sure my site was ranked well locally, and for those terms above, out of the 36 I track, I’ve succeeded. Yet, I don’t get any calls or email from anyone. I think there’s only 2 local people who have ever visited it, even after I gave a big presentation locally that garnered a lot of interest… at least on that day.

What this says is that no one locally needs or wants these types of services. The site and the blog get very little traffic in total, even with the blog (averaging 3 1/2 visitors a day) and in the last month there were 10 visits from all of New York state, 6 local visits; that’s kind of pathetic isn’t it? So, sometimes if you can’t break through in the big picture, you can’t break through locally either; that’s kind of depressing, isn’t it?

I’m going to stop at those 3 because I need to ask this question openly; should we care? That one depends on what you do and what your hopes are. I talked to my accounting client to determine if she still wanted me to write content for her this coming year. She said yes because she actually got a couple of clients this year because of both the website (which I created for her last February) and the blog, which, as I said, makes her the highest ranking accounting firm online in this area. People are always looking for accountants, and if they want someone local, they’ll dig deeper to find that person. I’m happy for her because it’ll cost me nothing to do my taxes. 🙂

For me, it’s a more difficult question. I’m not going to advertise SEO or social media services anymore because there’s no market for it, and I can use my time otherwise. I’m cutting back on what I write on that blog so the wealth of articles that are there will have to carry the day more than new stuff. I’m also not going to advertise writing services anymore, at least not through that site or blog, since that doesn’t seem to be how people are finding me anyway. And, if I’m not getting national or international business from that site, and it’s getting few visits anyway, why bother with trying to do local business, or at least advertising for it?

This article makes it seem like it’s all about me but it’s not supposed to be. I ask you to put yourself in my place when evaluating what you’ve been doing online and try to make the determination as to whether it’s working for you if you’re local. Having a presence is one thing; that’s always important. But at some point if the benefit isn’t equating to the business, you might have to make some evaluations of it all.

If you’re not trying to get local business then this entire post might not mean much to you unless you extrapolate it into just who you’re hoping to do business with, and how you’re doing with that. It’s not always about business for everyone, but if it is what do you see when you look at what’s happening for you?
 

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The Trouble With Getting Your Friends, Family & Local People To View Your Blogs

A few days ago, myself and the rest of the Live Google Hangout Crew decided to discuss the topic of blogging for local folks and businesses and the issues we all seem to have in getting those people to even take a look at what we write. This isn’t a new topic for me actually, as I talked about it first in 2009 when I wrote a post leading with If You Can’t Get Your Family And Friends To Subscribe… and again in 2011 when I asked Why Aren’t You Well Known Where You Live?

This one is a little different and yet the overall theme is the same. I always make the recommendation to businesses that if they want to increase their SEO and the potential for doing more business online that having a blog can do wonders for each. Just being a player gives you a great boost in local search, which is a great thing, but do those people read your stuff, and if not why not?

I tend to want to look at my own sites, and I’m going to share statistics on two of them. And of course there’s the video at the end of this post where we talked about it all, and the other site I’m going to talk about is mentioned in the video.

For I’m Just Sharing, the last month’s stats show that there were 32 visits from what I’d call the local area, which includes Rochester, which is about 75 miles away. If I only include the Syracuse area I have to remove 11 visits. That’s pretty poor if you ask me. New York state is my highest volume state, and the majority of visitors come from New York City, but that’s not quite local. I consider this my flagship blog, even if it’s not my highest ranked blog anymore (that now goes to my finance blog; how about that?). Now, I have to admit that I’m not sure how many local people might be subscribing to the feed, and via the feed this is my most read blog, so it’s possible the number is much higher. But since I can’t confirm that I’ll stick with Google Analytics for now.

My other blog is called Syracuse Wiki, and it’s my local blog. It’s not a highly visited blog, but I don’t write a lot of posts on it because I only write when I do or see something where I can capture pictures regarding local events. In a way I can’t gripe all that much because the visitors on that blog are 54% local, but I have thought that blog would attract way more people because it talks about local topics. And I do market it on Twitter, but I have to admit not many other places.

This brings us back to the original issue and why it’s a problem. If you’re running a local business and you’re trying to get local people interested in what you do, what can you do to advertise yourself and get local business? On the video I offer suggestions to companies that sell products, which includes coupons and lots of pictures, and even advertising the blogs in their stores so people can keep up with new things they offer.

But what about those of us who offer services, who don’t have offices outside of our homes or even if we do, we don’t own the space and thus are more limited with some of our banner advertising, if you will? Is there a way we can target our blogs so that it attracts local traffic and thus local business?

And what about our friends and family members? One’s best advocates are always those close to us, but if we can’t get them engaged then can we legitimately hope to engage our community, no matter what we do?

I’d like to know what you think. I’d also like you to check out the video where Sheryl Lock of Fuzzy Wuzzy Anipals (yeah, that’s right! lol) offered a lot of good stuff last Sunday, and maybe it can help me and some of you. At the very least it’ll get you thinking; there’s never anything wrong with that.


 

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